US-Backed Syrian Kurds Transfer Key Gas Field To Russians After Secret Talks

Tyler Durden's picture

In a move that surprised many observers of the ongoing war for Deir Ezzor province, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) handed over one of Syria's largest gas fields to Russian forces on Thursday, possibly as the result of unprecedented direct talks between high ranking Russian officials and Kurdish leaders in Qamishli in northeastern Syria.

Conoco gas plant (also locally called Al-Tabiya, which is the plant's main feeder field) lies on the eastern side of the Euphrates outside of Deir Ezzor city - which was recently liberated from ISIS as the Syrian Army and Russian forces approached from the west of the Euphrates. The Conoco field had been held by ISIS since 2014, and was taken by the SDF on September 23rd as the mainly Kurdish force advanced from the east. The now fast crumbling Islamic State relied on much of its financing through its prior consolidation over many oil and gas sites in the resource rich Deir Ezzor province.

Above: overhead view Conoco/Tabiya plant. Below: Recent video footage taken after the US-backed SDF captured the facility from ISIS last month. ConocoPhillips founded it, yet is not currently associated with it (since 2005).

The gas field, which had the largest capacity of any in Syria prior to the conflict, is capable of producing 450 million cubic feet (13 million cubic meters) of natural gas per day. It is named for the American company which first discovered gas reserves and built a processing plant at the location, however, ConocoPhillips turned the facility over to the state-run Syrian Gas Company in 2005 and has no current association with it.

Beirut-based al-Masdar News broke the story based on Syrian military sources:

The information, disseminated by Syrian military reports, claims that an agreement has been brokered between Russia and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces whereby the Syrian government will be allowed to assume control over the gas field.


If true, then the scope of any backdoor agreements reached between Moscow and Washington regarding the transfer of energy assets held by Kurdish-led militias back to the rightful ownership of the Damascus government may yet encompass wider dimensions (i.e. future transfers) – although there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this is in fact the case.


Nonetheless, the unexpected transfer of the Conoco Gas Field by the SDF to the Syrian government does now raise questions as to whether or not the hitherto competition between the Syrian Arab Army and Kurdish-led militias to seize control of the much larger Al-Omar Oil Field from ISIS further south is still on.

On Wednesday the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister was spotted in the self-declared Kurdish autonomous zone of Rojava to meet with Kurdish and Syrian leaders in the northern city of Qamishli (based on Zero Hedge's own sources, also confirmed by other analysts). It is very likely that Thursday's Conoco gas field handover was the result of this historic, yet unofficial, face-to-face meeting.

Russian Deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov is the Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East - so whatever was discussed was no doubt huge. This follows last month's "secret" and unprecedented US-Russia military to military meeting on Syria at a location somewhere in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, rapid developments in the region continue to point toward an eventual full Syrian-Russian military and strategic victory. As we explained previously, after Kirkuk city in Iraq came under complete Iraqi national control this week, the US is now forced to reconsider its presence in northeast Syria as Kurdish aspirations in Iraq were shut, and as the US was forced to side with Baghdad as the victor, along with other countries like Saudi Arabia, which quickly sent congratulations to the Baghdad government. It appears that national sovereignty will win out over what appeared to be a previous trajectory toward ethnic/sect based fragmentation in Iraq and Syria.

This week the US coalition announced that 98% of Raqqa city has been liberated from ISIS as the SDF continues to celebrate victory by raising its banners over the city. But now the question remains: if ISIS is now largely finished and clearly on the run, what will US military goals in Syria be if its 'Operation Inherent Resolve' was ostensibly all about defeating Daesh?

As we suggested before, Kurdish interests don’t lie with Washington but with Damascus, ready to establish a constructive dialogue with them if they stop being seduced by the US’ temporary interest in the Levant. So the Conoco field handover could mean that either the Syrian Kurds now see the writing on the wall (after observing events in Iraq) and know the US will eventually drop them (thus seeing the need to start directly dealing with Syria-Russia), or perhaps that the US has now been forced to save face and make good on its officially stated anti-ISIS goals.

In late September, US coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told Reuters: "From the coalition’s perspective it has not been a race, we are not in the land-grabbing business,” and added, “Our goal as I have said a dozen times is fighting ISIS. We don’t have a fight with the (Syrian) regime. We are not in a fight with the Russians. We are there to fight ISIS and that’s what we are going to do.”

It appears that the US could be forced to make good on these (initially empty) promises while making a "graceful" exit (the US will claim to have "defeated ISIS"). However, it remains true to that the US proxy SDF continues to hold vast Syrian energy resources, and US special forces still illegally maintain perhaps a dozen forward operating bases throughout the country's north.

US and Saudi "reconstruction" presence in Raqqa Province? Brett McGurk in Ayn Issa, Raqqa on Monday with the Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan (former Ambassador to Iraq, known to be extremely sectarian and anti-Shia.):

Though the US endgame continues to be the ultimate million dollar question in all of this, it appears at least for now that this endgame has something to do with the Pentagon forcing itself into a place of affecting the Syrian war's outcome and final apportionment of power: the best case scenario for American power in the region being permanent US bases under a Syrian Kurdish federated zone with favored access to Syrian oil doled out by Kurdish partners, and we could now be witnessing the early phases of such negotiations. 

But if indeed the Kurds are cutting separate deals with Russia, a US exit from Syria could be forced sooner rather than later.

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Akzed's picture

How can I get in on this action?

Joe Davola's picture

See this pile of rubble, it's our pile of rubble now!

JohninMK's picture

Whilst something seems to have happened at the Conoco plant yesterday exactly what it was is yet to become clear, the fog of war is quite dense in that area. What does seem certain is that if this was a handover by the SDF to the SAA/Russians it has not stopped the SDF in the area.

This morning there are report that the SDF is moving quickly towards the Omar oil field (the real biggie in Syria) from the north whilst the SAA are moving towards it from the west. Both forces have crossed rivers to get where they are and it is only a race over the desert. In this area for some reason the SDF have been able to move faster through the ISIS controlled areas than the SAA. Clearly superior US over Russian tactical advice rather than scurrilous rumour that ISIS is letting them through.

This has some very interesting potential for direct US/Russian conflict, especially in the air with close air/ground support.

Scar Bro's picture

scurrilous - I like that word. 


Scurrilous, fake news.

BobEore's picture

Well, the SAA appears to have reached that field first, and the race is over... if there really ever was one. Even after I handed them the al-Masdar link some months back... the pat-patting mooks here managed to somehow miss the real story in the sites news feed -

and the fact that the Russkies made stops at both (turkish-occupied)al-Bab... and then, and SDF base in n Aleppo;

stripping out all the usual breathless hype from this story...

we see the emergence of a Russian initiative to effectively broker a deal tween the two mortal enemies - such that the knife held at the throat of the Afrin Canton right now... must be laid down - in exchange for the SDF giving up any rights to the big oil fields in the East.

And after all the usual bullshit anti-merikan agit-prop is cleared from the scene... it's also clear that the Kurds and their allies in n Syria are now making serious deals - without the Americans - and ARE NOT puppets of same - contrary to the regurgitations of the sockPUPPETS among us here...

because UNLIKE THE KRG KURDISH GANG in n Iraq - they are fighting for their independence from ANY STATE... most certainly including amerika... and have masterfully worked their connections with both they and the russkies to negotiate an effective STOP to the jihadis in Ankaras' plans to crush them.

and NO - it never was ///all about oil///

Now back to our regular programming of moronic distortions and mindless overkill hype.

Weisshorn's picture

After all the dirty tricks Zato and her allies have played they had better be looking over their shoulders.  There were several Russian ambassadors that were assasinated.  There was the foul business of the embassy compounds in NY where the US violated century old treaties.  Then again in SF.  There is the Russian General and Colonel virtually assasinated near Del Ezzor.  And the Nato/Aussie/Danish bombing of Del Ezzor during the cease fire in 2016.  How about the attempt to capture Russian cease fire observers to use as ISIS sword-puppies.  What about that 59 cruise missile debacle over "Assad gassing his people".

The problem with the (((double down))) strategy is that it is easy to lose track of how deep you are in.

HRClinton's picture

1. You buy Russian electronic money with US electronic money.

2. You use your Russian electronic money to buy shares in Gazprom.

3. You drink real Russian vodka and say a few words in Russian, to celebrate. Nazdrovye, Gospodin!


Akzed's picture

I awready got the vodka part down pat.

11b40's picture

Then, you get to stay alive.

Ghost of PartysOver's picture

Muricans, making friends and influencing people the world over.  Holy crap, John McCain and his ilk can screw up a one car parade.

Buck Johnson's picture

No kidding, they sure can and it truly shows in what Russia did to them in this area.


researchfix's picture

This Kurdistan game was short and easy. Secure the oil and gas, and yankee leaves.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Oh the irony...


American taxpayers getting fucked over...    ...again.


"Full Faith and Credit"

Joe Davola's picture

I was feeling left out of the whole #metoo thing, until I read your post.

MozartIII's picture

This is the biggest story that Zhedge put up today. Crickets from the CIA press. Major ramifications down the road.


Good Day!

aliens is here's picture

You mean the JOOs and the Saudi rag heads don't get the pipeline they wanted?

HRClinton's picture

Russia and China going cashless gets rewarded by (((Global-Lust Banksters)))?

BritBob's picture

Syria - started out as a genuine Arab spring against an evil dictator.

Now it's difficult to find out who the good guys are?


any_mouse's picture

Bull Shit!

Started as a grab for oil resources by Israel, and to clear a pipeline route for Qatar to compete against Gazprom in Europe.

TPTB could not care less about Syrians.

Syria was a multi cultural secular nation. A globalist's dream, one might think, except that globalists only have nightmares that come true for everyone else.

The Joker's picture

No, it started off with Brzenzski's Grand Chessboard and the Greater Israeli Project (aka Zionism).  Oil is a bonus.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"Syria - started out as a genuine Arab spring against an evil dictator."

That meme has been known to be nonsense for some time.

TheLastTrump's picture

It's difficult to find out who the good guys are because of propaganda disseminated by the same type of people who downvoted your factual statements.


Assad & his daddy were always was Sadaam. Gassing Kurds is not the the name of a rock band.


The US created ISIS? I'm quite sure Obama, Hilary, McCain & others were complicit in arming & funding it. How could they run oil fields with US air power in the region? Answer, they could not, and neither will the Russians, Syrians or Iranians if the US decides.


But somehow the US is still promoting ISIS? Bullshit, they're killing them & driving them out of Syria. Straight to the Obama provided cover of Libya.


Russian/Iranian/Syrian shills abound here & elsewhere, clogging & confusing as much as they can.


GO Trump! Disengage once ISIS is finished as promised. Provide Israel with tactical nukes or anything else they may not already have. :)



eta PS- How could ISIS run oil fields with US air power in the region? What about Russian air power? What I'm saying is, if the oil fields never got bombed into disuse while ISIS had them then maybe both air forces were stood down? How do you NOT cut off your opponents money (air) supply?



JohninMK's picture

Don't know where to start on that stream of bile. Do you have to use double spacing?

I'll limit myself to the last point.

Both sides seem to recognise the future strategic importance of the hardware in the oil fields so have left it alone just incase they were the winner. What was really important in turning that oil into money was transport to market. Given that oil pipelines are an easy target and the fields are pretty spread out trucks became the obvious method and this is where it becomes murky. No-one has owned up to how thousands of US and European tanker trucks got to Syria (just like the armed technicals) but it seems logical that the US/Saudi may well have had a hand in it as there are not many alternatives.

Once there these trucks operated in an almost constant stream feeding oil, mainly via Kurdish Iraq, to a pipeline entry point in Turkey from where it went to the Med and the onto the market, a high proportion seemed to have gone to Israel. Somehow and again this has never been explained, the USAF and Coalition recon assets either never spotted the trucks or if they did, ignored them. Which it was is still classified. As they were in the east of Syria this was a Russian tactical aircraft no go area so this continued until the Russian finally got so pissed off that at a high level meeting (I forget which) Putin threw down on the table photos of what looked to be horizon to horizon tanker convoys demanding to know why the USAF could not see them and if they didn't hit them the RuAF would. As if by magic the very next day in went the A-10s. The RuAF also joined in.

That is how ISIS cash flow was stopped.

Incidently, Israel has enough nukes of its own, it doesn't need any American ones.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Not trying to dismiss your excellent post, but to bring some clarity.  There were no A10's when the Russians were bombing the trucks.  The Russians came under criticism because they always bombed from altitude.  The Russian strategy was to send a message to the Truckers, and give them time to adjust to a new reality.

Were A-10s involved there would have been miles and miles of devastation.  Anybody who has seen an A-10 swoop in for a strafing run, knows how much hell this warplane can unleash.  Their accurate gunfire would have destroyed the convoys in one day.... this scenario did not happen.  The Russian bombing campaign against the Truckers and Turkey lasted for weeks.

Highway of death in Iraq for comparison:

With regards to Israel, since it is a Zionist entity, then by definition it is a bankster criminal state.  There were reports that Israel was transfering oil ship to ship to then break the trail.  Then Israel sold the stolen oil to itself at cheap prices.  The oil was laundered through Turkey to Israel.  In this way, Israel funded Islamic State  and gets cheap oil for itself - a twofer.  

11b40's picture

Right, and Erdogon's son was running the logistics while making 100's of millions of $'s.

researchfix's picture

"Somehow and again this has never been explained, the USAF and Coalition recon assets either never spotted the trucks or if they did, ignored them. Which it was is still classified."

Are you a lawyer. Try common sense on this issue.

Ace006's picture

Convoys of technicals and oil tankers went unmolested by Coalition fighters. Unmiolested, I tell you. 

ISIS fleeing Iraq, unmolested. A disgrace. The US effort there is and has been illegal, dishonest and unclean.

Whenthe Russians came in that stopped where they operated. No more warning leaflets.

The Joker's picture

How could you NOT cut off your opponents money supply? 

Think it through Turbo. 

fel.temp.reparatio's picture

even my cat laughs at you cat ;-) heh

seataka's picture

No, Internet Trolls are easy to see

Note who is lying, using The Reverse Blockade and heavy Emotional Content
or using the methods of fallacious argument

Reverse Blockade: emphatically insisting upon something which is the opposite of the truth blocks the average person’s mind from perceiving the truth. In accordance with the dictates of healthy common sense, he starts searching for meaning in the “golden mean” between truth and its opposite, winding up with some satisfactory counterfeit. People who think like this do not realize that this effect is precisely the intent of the person who subjects them to this method. ” age 104, Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski

Only small crimes need secrecy, the big ones are best concealed by public incredulity

silverer's picture

All government leaders these days are evil dictators. The "good guys", that are barely that, are just the stupid ones that keep paying taxes so the leaders can keep being evil dictators.

flapdoodle's picture

If you are going to spout stupidities, please contain your stupidities to something you are experienced in and just spew stupidity about the Argentine Malvinas.

farflungstar's picture


LMAO some of these cock eaters the jew can fool with the same story over, and over and over

Ace006's picture

Stick to Gibraltar and the Falklands, britbob.

Arrow4Truth's picture

Horseshit. Assad won his third term by 88.7% of the popular vote in 2014. Go have some tea with the Queen Mum. Beth will explain it to you. 

KnightsofNee's picture

More like a color revolution sponsored by the US and the house of Said at the behest of the chosen people.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Worth rubbing it in (

Sure hope it hurts when you sit down after what Ivan keeps doing to your "ASS"!...

DirtySanchez's picture

The USA continues playing checkers in the middle east, while the grand master chess player, Putin, keeps winning.

Trump needs to get the USA out of these middle east wars we started.

Akzed's picture

Yeah but it's 3-D checkers!

TheLastTrump's picture

You fully support both Russia and Iran in their endeavors.

any_mouse's picture

If you mean NOT supporting Israel and USA CIA/MIC/FED, then I fit the description.

Know the True Enemies.

silverer's picture

Who is respecting Syria's sovereignty? It's not the US. But Russia is. There by invitation. The US, there by invasion. It's not a question of support, it's a question of international law.

DirtySanchez's picture

Listen clearly, you fucktard.

I am a libertarian US citizen.

I believe in the US Constitution and the Bill of rights.

I do not believe in neocons, neoliberals, corporate fake news, hollyweird, permanent ruling class, etc.

I mind my own business, and the USA should do likewise.

The USA has no business as an enemy of Russia, Iran, China, or whoever else, those running this country wish to rattle sabres with.



Ace006's picture

Is supporting the US in its endeavors an option?

farflungstar's picture

Why do you support Americans dying in the Middle East? For what? 

You're a traitorous piece of shit nigger who supports endless wars against any enemies israel deems fit for removal.

Fuck you. 

Conscious Reviver's picture

Your reply was well said.

LastTrump can't understand why the TeeVee PROGRAMMING doesn't work on you.


fel.temp.reparatio's picture

congratulations, you're part of the problem not the solution...